Walter SOMERVILLE

SOMERVILLE, Walter

Service Number: 3488
Enlisted: 14 July 1915, Bendigo, Victoria
Last Rank: Driver
Last Unit: 7th Infantry Battalion
Born: Strathfieldsaye, Victoria, Australia, August 1893
Home Town: Strathfieldsaye, Greater Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Orchardist
Died: Natural causes, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, 10 September 1988
Cemetery: Bendigo Civil Cemetery
Memorials:
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World War 1 Service

14 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 3488, Bendigo, Victoria
11 Oct 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 3488, 7th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Nestor, Melbourne
11 Oct 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3488, 7th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3488, 7th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
14 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3488, 7th Infantry Battalion, Mouquet Farm
4 May 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3488, 7th Infantry Battalion, Bullecourt (Second)
20 Sep 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3488, 7th Infantry Battalion, Menin Road
4 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3488, 7th Infantry Battalion, Broodseinde Ridge
14 Apr 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3488, 7th Infantry Battalion, German Spring Offensive 1918
27 May 1918: Promoted AIF WW1, Driver, 7th Infantry Battalion, Belgium
8 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Driver, SN 3488, 7th Infantry Battalion, The Battle of Amiens
6 Jul 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Driver, SN 3488, 7th Infantry Battalion, RTA 23 March 1919 for discharge.

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Biography contributed by John Edwards

"3488 Driver Walter Somerville, an orchardist and resident of Strathfieldsaye, a small suburb within Bendigo, Victoria, enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force on July 14, 1915. At 21 years of age, he embarked upon the HMAT Nestor on the 11th of October in the Melbourne, his destination: Gallipoli, Turkey. Walter was apart of the 11th reinforcements and joined the 7th Battalion while they were regrouping in Egypt just after the evacuation of Gallipoli; the battalion was commanded by Harold Edward ‘Pompey’ Elliot. From Egypt, Somerville and his Battalion sailed for France to assist the ongoing battles across the Western Front. The battalion entered the front line trenches on the 3rd of May, but it wasn’t until the 23rd of July when the Battalion had significant action in the Somme Valley in the battle of Pozieres, one of the most costly battles ever fought during World War One, in particular for the Australian soldiers. Somerville had endured gruelling battles between the 23-27 of July and 15-21 of August before the Battalion marched out to man the Trenches at Ypres, Belgium.

Somerville and his battalion withstood through the harsh winter of 1916 while rotating between duties in the trenches and training. At the start of the New Year the Battalion was ordered to the Hindenburg Line to assist in what was supposed to be a trench raid, instead turned out to be an open advance as the German’s had extended their line. The line was heavily guarded with thick wire and pill boxes. The advance failed, and the battalion was halted before Bullecourt. Somerville and the 7th Battalion were taken out of action in May and were placed into training to reorganise. On the 2nd of August 1917, that year, Walter Somerville was dispatched from the 7th Battalion for transport duties. Somerville would be responsible for delivering supplies and ammunition through battles and hard terrain. Drivers that drove wagons pulled along by horses were often targeted by machine guns making the task even more dangerous. Though it is unknown who Somerville served during the time of his duties his Battalion had moved to training until the Third Battle of Ypres in September that year.

Somerville rejoined his battalion on the 6th of September, in time to assisted in the Battle of Menin Road on the 20th on September where the ‘leap frog’ tactic was adopted. The tactic involved infantry being sent in waves; if one objective was taken, that infantry would pause and wait for the second wave to attack the taken objective. After the small victory at Menin Road, the Battalion moved onto the Battle of Broodseinde on the 4th of October. All infantries were pushed into ground heavily devastated by shellfire and constant rain making it difficult to move guns and ammunition. The battle resulted in the German’s holding the vital ground at Passchendaele but an Allied victory over Broodseinde. From there the Battalion would spend the winter in the Ypres mud. On the 16th of January Somerville was dispatched for transport duties again until the 22nd of that month. He was official ranked Driver on the 8th of June 1918. When he returned, his Battalion would assist the on the German Spring Offensive taking place between March, April and May. After the German’s tactics of using troops newly relieved from the Eastern Front, following the collapse of the Russian Armies and Empire, the Central Powers were confident the war would be one before American troops could assist Britain. The German’s attacks were held back by the Triple Entente and come early August they had started their own offensive that would push Germany out of France and end the war. The 7th Battalion served through 1918 until September, only two months before the Armistice was signed on the 11th of November, declaring the war over.

On the 24th of January 1919, Walter Somerville would return to Australia from England. Though Walter Somerville’s post-war life is unknown at present, it can be said that he will never be forgotten in his home town of Bendigo and suburb of Strathfieldsaye where there are two streets in his honour. His sacrifices, just like all soldiers, will always be appreciated and will never be forgotten. Driver W. Somerville died in 1988 and was interred at the Bendigo Cemetery on 13 September 1988." - from the Bendigo Advertiser 23 Jan 2014

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